Phuket Provincial Prison Commissioner Suchart Silapachai confirmed to The Phuket News this week that the overall progress ha s passed the 80% mark.
“Most of construction is finished. Only about 14% remains, to install and adjust the fittings and other things,” he said.
“The new prison will have high-level technology, and every aspect of the system must be checked thoroughly before inmates can be moved in,” he added.
“Overall, construction is expected to be completed by May 2020. At this stage I have not been given any date for an official opening of the prison. If that does happen, we will be informed by Ministry of Justice officials in Bangkok,” Mr Suchart said.
The government contract to build the new prison was signed on July 30, 2015, but the first pile was not driven into the ground until February 2016.
Assigned to complete the project are contractors Sor Ruedeesongtham Ruamkit Limited Partnership and Construction Exclusiveness Co Ltd.
As of October last year, the new facility, located on 108 rai in Baan Bangjo, was expected to start housing inmates by November or December this year. (See story here.)
Asked why the delay, Mr Suchart said, “It is about internal management about construction.”
He declined to comment further on the matter, saying, “Please wait until it is completed.”
“This will make life inside the prison better than at the existing Phuket Provincial Prison in Phuket Town,” Mr Suchart explained.
Phuket Prison, located near the government quarter in Phuket Town, has for decades been hugely overcrowded.
The prison, built in 1902 and worthy of preservation as a building of historical value, was originally designed to accommodate only 750 prisoners. Later modifications increased the jail’s capacity, but not to accommodate the more than huge number of inmates currently incarcerated there.
“The current capacity of Phuket Provincial Prison is 283 female prisoners and 945 male prisoners,” Mr Suchart said.
“But there are currently 461 female prisoners and 2,239 male prisoners at the prison in Phuket Town. So the conditions are very cramped right now,” he noted.
“We are trying to reduce the number of prisoners at Phuket Prison. I recently had some prisoners transferred to the prison in Chaiya District, in Surat Thani Province, and another facility in Takuapa District, in Phang Nga, to make more space for the other prisoners at Phuket Prison,” Mr Suchart added.
While Mr Suchart declined to confirm any details of the new prison under construction at Bangjo, former Phuket Provincial Prison Commissioner Soontorn Dechraksa told The Phuket News last year, “Once the new prison is completed, it can hold 4,000-5,000 prisoners,” (See story here.)